Staying active and healthy during pregnancy is of vital importance to both mother and baby. With the approval of an OB or midwife, most women can enjoy a regular pre- and postnatal fitness routine that provides numerous health benefits for both body and mind.
Below is a guest blog post covering pre- and postnatal exercise authored by Kristin Singer. Kristin is one of our expert inerTRAINERS, and one of her specialties is prenatal exercise. All our inerTRAINERS have specific specialties so that you can find someone who is right for you, your goals, and your specific situation.
I became pregnant while I was studying to become a personal trainer. My classmates and instructor were rather stunned and didn’t really know what to do with me. It had simply never happened before that a student had gotten pregnant DURING this very hands-on training program. There was, *ahem*, a great deal of concern.
In the meantime, I walked, I danced, and I modified my lifting regimen. I felt great. However, when one student commented that this is not a game and that I should stop working out, I did not feel so great. I was so upset and embarrassed that I cried. But, I never stopped doing what I knew was right for my body and my baby.
I believe strongly in something that I think more women need to hear: our bodies are designed to work in an incredibly functional way during pregnancy with changes occurring at specific times that allow our babies to grow and our physiology to adapt. These changes occur so that we can continue to live and love our lives, and nurture those lives inside of us.
I would like to share a caveat about doctor discussions–some OB/GYNs are completely ignorant of exercise and nutrition during pregnancy. If you are warned against exercising altogether during pregnancy, this is a dangerous mentality that may put you at risk. The mentality of many medical professionals is changing, but it is still best to be aware of your options and get second opinions. That being said, each pregnancy and person is different, so it is best to discuss all health and fitness questions and concerns with your doctor.
Some suggested exercise maneuvers and guidelines for women in various stages of family planning:
Unless you are undergoing fertility treatments, you can and should do anything and everything in your normal fitness routine.
No horseback riding, valsalva maneuver, or scuba diving. Horseback riding puts too much pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Scuba may cause issues with decompression. The valsalva maneuver involves holding your breath to lift a very heavy weight, max rep-style. Everything else is fine up until the second trimester.
No exercises in which you are flat on your back after the second trimester. There will be many things that are just so darn uncomfortable; if it bothers you, stop. I tried a pull up while pregnant–forget it!
Yes, you can run, dance, walk, lift weights, anything. Even crunches.
In particular, exercises like wide grip rows, shoulder presses, and lunges are extremely beneficial for supporting muscle groups compromised by changes in the body due to greater amounts of elastin. Lower body exercises are essential for support during labor.
Editor’s note: Remember, each person is different and all prenatal women should consult with a medical doctor/OB or midwife before attempting any exercise program. A personal trainer with experience in pre- or postnatal exercise can provide guidance on the best exercise program for your particular situation.